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The Origin of Life- One Engineers Perspective © A.M.Hugo 2003-2007

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THE ORIGIN OF LIFE Musing on the Origin of Life, the Universe and Everything...

The Origin of Life- One Engineers Perspective © A.M.Hugo 2003-2007

Table of Contents:

Engineering Principles

Introduction

Points to Ponder The Atmosphere that Wasn't Target Practice
The Spark of Life Zap! Kappow! Soup of the Day WWW The Game of Chance
Heads with no Tails Monkey Types Hot Fox There Is No Try Chicken or the Egg
Bits of Life Primitive Notions Cellular Solutions Years of our Days Genesis 101
A Walk in the Park Faith in Evidence Is That a Fact?

Conclusions


The Origin of Life- One Engineers Perspective

Many people ponder on the origin of life and the perennial question “How did we get here?”

The efforts to find answers to this question are shrouded in mystery, assumptions and plain guesswork. Is there a way to penetrate the mysticism, hocus pocus, smoke and mirrors? Yes, there is, but to get at the answer we need to investigate with sound engineering principles in mind. One area where the confusion is greatest and the examples of straight thinking are few and far between is the debate on the origin of life.

Engineering Principles

As a professional Electrical Engineer, I have found that several engineering principles can be brought to bear on this subject. For example, one of the first things an engineer learns is this: Never Make Assumptions! Always check the results of every operation. When you turn the power off on a switchboard by flipping the main switch, are you sure that it worked? Do you test to see that the assumption of safety is true? Is the power really off, or do you just think it is? Has the switchboard been modified behind your back? Is the label on the switch correct? Is that red wire hot or not?

Do you see what I mean? Behind even the simplest of actions, there are a host of assumptions, many of which are not obvious or are undocumented. An engineers first task is to analyze these hidden assumptions and account for them before reaching conclusions. This is especially true when considering “origin-of-life” ideas. Speculation is rife, assumptions rampant and most off the time you are not told about the assumptions made. Worse, those telling you don't even know about them. And the people telling them hope you don't notice.

Further, an engineer always checks his facts. Most engineers will not accept critical data solely on someone else's statements. Can the facts be verified? Are there several independent tests? Do they agree? Much of the information I reviewed prior to writing this document can be analyzed with this in mind. It is sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction. Much speculation rides in factual clothing. Enormous leaps of faith are concealed behind casual wording. Difficulties involving many orders of magnitude (powers of ten) are cast aside with a dismissive wave of the hand.

Then there is the matter of ethics. Is it ethical to promote ideas that you know to be incomplete? A common dilemma is where to draw the line between fact and fiction, evidence and speculation, conviction and assertion. An engineer endeavors to clearly see these divisions and act appropriately in the interests of the wider community as well as himself and his clients. Ethical decisions are often at the heart of these concerns.

One advantage of an engineering background is the non-swallowing of dogmatic assertions and a desire to see critical ideas tested and spelled out in full. If the idea or fact is surrounded by theory or speculation, chances are that it is fatally flawed and has to be culled. You might think that nothing gets done this way, but all I can say is that many bridges are built with steel and concrete. You will not find any made out of thin air. And airy speculation is behind many of sciences treasured ideas.

One final consideration is the K. I. S. S. principle (keep it simple, stupid!). If there is a simple explanation in accordance with known and tested data, it is usually correct unless there are unusual circumstances. If an answer requires convoluted elaborations or theories stacked on top of theories, rampant speculation and guesswork, chances are you can do better. Someone once said that for every problem there is a simple, straightforward and wrong answer! This is sometimes true because of unseen factors, hidden assumptions, incomplete data or even bias on the part of the researcher. There is a lot of this in connection with origin-of-life accounts. However, there are simple, straight forward and correct answers too. We will meet some of these in the discussion that follows.


Introduction

My early thoughts about the origin of living things centred around the above ideals. Barring fanciful mythology, I saw three competing conclusions: evolution, creationism and design.

What is Evolution?

Evolution in its biological sense is the bizarre notion that life spontaneously originated wholly by chance, using entirely natural processes, in environments such as those found at or near the surface of a planet. This could mean, for example, in the atmosphere, on the surface or in the oceans.

What is Creationism?

Creationism is the even more bizarre notion that the universe and everything in it was created in six or seven literal 24 hour days less than seven thousand years ago. Although I have no problem with a Creator, I doubt that he would have been strait-jacketed by human concepts of time.

What is Design?

Design is the idea that life originated by intelligent design without any human time constraints. This is the conclusion that I consider to be the only one that makes sense. Life was superbly engineered. The more biology discovers about living things the more the evidence points to a Grand Designer.


Points to Ponder

This discussion centres around the explanations put forward to explain the origin of life rather than the subsequent development of living things, although that may follow. Why is that? Simply stated, any solution which cannot adequately explain the origin of life is not a sound basis to support an explanation of subsequent biological events. Buildings are constructed with solid foundations and biological theories are no different. In fact, as an engineer I demand adequate documentation to support any proposition. A biological theory is the same. It must stand on its foundation or fall over.

I will start with some of the more important processes generally associated with the notion of biological evolution which seems to be the most commonly accepted theory today and therefore the one which should have the most rigorous scientific proofs. The burden of proof belongs to the one putting forward the theory, so it will be interesting to see how things stack up. Let's take out our engineering lens and begin. I will Assume Nothing, Check the Facts and Keep it Simple.

Most people assume that the theory of evolution began and ended with Darwin but this is not the case. Charles Darwin had no concerns about the origin of life since his book, “Origin of Species” dealt primarily with variation in pre-existing living things as did his subsequent works. In his conclusion to “Origin of Species” he allows that a creator may have started several living things or perhaps one. Modern evolutionists are not so tolerant, allowing no room for a creator whatsoever. They largely follow the pioneering work of Russian biochemist Alexander Oparin and others who, since the 1920's have postulated that living things developed over millions of years in several stages. First there was the development of amino acids, phosphates and sugars in the worlds oceans. Second, the spontaneous generation of large macromolecules such as proteins and nucleotides. Third the development of the first simple living cell, then multicellular life, mammals and man. In this document, I will be following this broad scheme up to the first living cell.

So let us consider several points about the origin of living things that in my mind will decide the issue. You may not agree, but in just three or four of the points that follow, one of the three ideas above may be completely eliminated without further discussion. Another will collapse soon after.

The Atmosphere that Wasn't

Much debate over evolutionary ideas centres around the possible makeup of the earths early atmosphere. There are those who insist that the early earth had a “reducing” atmosphere. This is chemistry jargon for “no free oxygen” or to put it another way, they claim that the earth had a hydrogen rich atmosphere with methane, ammonia and other hydrocarbon molecules, but little free oxygen. Why are they so pedantic about this? Because the presence of oxygen in any quantity is fatal to evolutionary models with such a ammonia-methane type atmosphere.

They believe that such an atmosphere, when combined with lightning sparks or other sources of energy could have produced simple amino acids, thought to be the building blocks of life. Oxygen is highly reactive and quickly combines with other compounds. It would have removed and dismantled any organic molecules as they formed. So oxygen puts evolution out of the picture. Now you know why such a reducing atmosphere is favoured. Not because it is logical, or even probable. The reason is that such an atmosphere is the only one which will favour the processes put forward by scientists. Sidney Fox, for example, admitted that chemical evolution would be largely inhibited by oxygen. It has nothing to do with some compelling reality. Many geologists seem to favour the idea that our early atmosphere was much like Venus, with carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapor, but without the high temperatures and pressures. For them, hydrogen and methane are improbable. Why?

After many years of experiments and computer reconstructions, many scientists believe that a hydrogen rich atmosphere would be virtually impossible for the early earth. For example, hydrogen is the lightest of the chemical elements, and it is known that the earths gravity is too small for the earth to retain any significant quantity (say less than 1%) of free hydrogen for more than a few years. Further, it is too close to the sun for a methane and ammonia atmosphere to form. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun would soon destroy hydrogen based molecules in the atmosphere without an ozone layer to protect them, making carbon dioxide instead (atmospheric ozone is a characteristic of earths oxygen rich atmosphere today). This radiation would reduce the concentrations of ammonia and methane (if they existed at all) to practically nil. This same radiation, acting on atmospheric water vapour would generate free oxygen. Just what they don't want!

Additionally, there appears to be a Catch 22 here, in that an oxygen free atmosphere is just as fatal to chemical evolution as an oxygen rich one, since the methane and ammonia concentrations cannot be preserved, nor can any supposed byproducts. One encyclopedia said that in Precambrian times, (the first 3.9 billion years of Earths existence) “solar ultraviolet radiation, especially near the wavelength of 2,600 Å, which is particularly destructive to nucleic acids, may have penetrated to the surface of the Earth, rather than being totally absorbed in the upper atmosphere by ozone as it is today. In the absence of ozone, the ultraviolet solar flux is so high that a lethal dose for most organisms would be delivered in less than an hour. Unless extraordinary defense mechanisms existed in Precambrian times, life near the Earth's surface would have been impossible.” So if there is no ozone, there can be no ammonia/methane atmosphere and no organisms. But if there was some ozone and oxygen, evolutionary processes grind to a halt. Either way, chemical evolution is dead.

Simply stated, the early earth was too small, too hot and too close to the sun. Hydrogen, helium and methane exist in some atmospheres today, of course, but only a great distances from the sun (Jupiter and the outer planets) where it is colder, and the planets are much less subject to the suns damaging radiation.


Target Practice

This unavoidable conclusion does not stop true believers from coming up with even more bizarre theories to try to “seed” the earths atmosphere with appropriate amounts of hydrogen, methane and ammonia. For example, one such theory states that the earth was hit by hundreds of hydrogen and methane rich comets in the early days when life “developed”. This fed the earth with the compounds needed for evolution to proceed. To accomplish this, however, you need a lot of comets, and you have to feed them to the earth over a long period of time. Just how many is “a lot”?

Astronomers theorize that there are gazillions of comets in the “Oort Cloud”, a spherical shell of comets thought to exist at extreme distances from the sun. Every now and again, a fresh comet appears that is presumed to have come from this region. Also, it is believed that large numbers of comets and asteroids swept through the solar system in its early years when the sun first ignited. This cleaned out the inner parts of the solar system and gave the earth most of its water vapour, resulting in the cratered appearance of solar system bodies from impacts with asteroids at the time, and occasional impacts since then. Meteor craters in the U.S.A., Australia and elsewhere lend credence to this idea, as does the cratered surface of the moon.

However, we are not talking here of this initial cratering which happened far too early in the solar systems history. The theory in question happened at a later era when the earth had sufficiently cooled, and requires a carefully orchestrated “feeding” of the earth by comets when life was getting started. Comets are quite flimsy compared to asteroids, as comets are mostly dust and ices. So, how many comets do you need to visit the inner solar system for one to accidentally hit the earth? After all, the Earth is a very small target and the area of its orbit is very large. This is easily calculated and is in proportion to the square of the ratio between the diameter of the Earth and the diameter of its orbit. On average, about 500 million comets are needed for every one that strikes the earth. With most of the materials being vaporized on impact or ejected back into space, to build up even a small amount of hydrogen or methane calls for hundreds of comets impacting the Earth each year. Any hydrogen deposited in this way would have dispersed in a few years since the Earths gravity could not prevent it from escaping. This would require many impacting comets every year, calling for a ridiculous number of total comets, in the region of a hundred billion per year, bearing in mind that it had to continue for millions of years! Naturally there is no evidence that this ever took place and it remains a bizarre speculation which demonstrates how desperate some people can be.

The Spark of Life

Much has been made of the experiments reported by scientists such as Stanley Miller in 1953 and similar laboratory experiments conducted by many others over the years. They found that a hydrogen-methane type atmosphere when subject to electrical discharges could be made to produce small quantities of simple amino acids and other compounds thought to be necessary in the formation of life's chemistry. Such experiments consisted of a circulating “atmosphere”, electrical sparks and hot water vapour etc. and a “trap” to contain the chemicals thus formed. This experiment has been repeated since and there is no doubt that simple amino acids can formed in this way. You could do it yourself if you had the analyzing techniques. It is after all, simple organic chemistry.

Many scientists eagerly accepted these results and championed the speculation that this supposedly “proved” that life could evolve on the primitive earth by simple means. You will still find such dogmatic claims cluttering up evolutionary textbooks today, despite the fact that it proved nothing of the kind. Even Miller and his colleagues readily admitted the limitations of their results. Has further research lived up to the early promises? Regrettably (for evolutionists) no. Scientist today are still looking for the answers and their expectations have not lived up to the hype.

Still, taking out our engineering lens, what can we deduce concerning these experiments and the results? Are there any unstated assumptions? Any glossing over difficulties? Any speculations masquerading as fact? Do you really have to ask?

First there is the glaring error hardly acknowledged today, or then, that no one knows what the earths atmosphere was like at the time. However we do know what it was not, as explained above. This puts all such experiments back to their proper perspective as curious laboratory exercises in organic chemistry, unrelated to life on earth.


Zap! Kappow!

Lets examine another assumption, that lightning discharges and ultraviolet radiation could produce such results. How much lightning or energy bursts would you need? About 100 or so grams of the simplest amino acid comprises 10^23 molecules (Avogadro's number). Even if we made the hugely generous assumption that every single lightning bolt or UV flash produced a thousand amino acid molecules (10^3) and that all these molecules were exactly the right kind and in precisely the right place, each kilogram (10^24 molecules) would require 10^21 lightning strikes. Since billions of tons (10^12 kg) of these molecules are needed to produce a “primeval soup” in the world oceans, we can infer that this needs 10^33 lightning bolts at the very least. Even when spread over a billion year period (10^9 years) this requires that each column of air above every square kilometer of the earth (about 10^11 sq. km surface area) receive 10^13 lightning strikes per year. This is about a million strokes of lightning per second! Am I the only bloke on the planet that has trouble believing that every place on earth suffered from a million bolts of lightning per second for a billion years? Or that every smudge of organic material so formed miraculously survived intact and was still there millions of years later? Yet some people swallow this without the slightest sign of indigestion!

Some may argue that the above scenario is incorrect since there were other sources of energy such as solar ultraviolet radiation, lessening the need for so much lightning. This may be the case, since the lightning demands are so huge, but it is beside the point. What I am doing here is the equivalent, whether the energy came from lightning, gamma rays, UV or supernovae. I am presuming a preposterous rate of production along the lines of a billion molecules per second per sq.km of earth to highlight the absurdity of these proposals. The actual production rate required is in reality thousands of times more as demonstrated in the discussion of soup (next heading) so the monstrous rate of synthesis above is still woefully inadequate whatever the source of energy.

Next consider the assumption that this experiment accurately reflected real life. Few people today would say that laboratory conditions could accurately mimic the outside world for millions of years. Where is the allowance for planetary upheaval, cometary bombardment, meteor impacts, floods, earthquakes, storms, volcanoes, natural disasters or just plain bad weather? Wouldn't all that chaos affect our carefully controlled conditions at least in some small way?

And why did the experimenters build an artificial “trap” to remove the compounds of interest?

Well, it turns out that the process required to synthesize organic compounds like amino acids is also very much more efficient at destroying them. Researchers estimate that the ratio is between 10,000 and 100,000 to one against. In other words, the discharges required to synthesize an amino acid were 10,000 times more likely to destroy it. Hence the electrical discharges would have destroyed the molecules long before they had accumulated. (see my comments above under The Atmosphere..) So, in the experiments, arrangements were contrived to remove the products formed, since allowing them to recirculate would have meant certain destruction. No wonder the researchers provided a means of removing the wanted compounds from harms way by collecting them in an artificial “trap”. Had they not done so, there would be nothing to collect. Nothing at all.

There is another related problem with these experiments. Scientists assumed that the amino acids synthesized by these methods would quickly be removed from the atmosphere by collecting in the worlds oceans and lakes. However further research has shown that such molecules, caught up in the atmospheric circulation could be drifting around in the atmosphere for up tp two years or more, all the time subjected to the destroying radiation from lightning and solar ultraviolet. (i.e. much longer than one hour) This reduces the likelihood of even reaching a body of water to virtually nil.


Soup of the Day

Most writers favouring a naturalistic “blind chance” theory for the formation of living things from non-living materials make mention of a “primeval soup” at some point in the narrative. The theory goes that as quantities of organic materials supposedly built up in the worlds oceans and lakes, their concentrations rose to the point where amino acids began to be linked together spontaneously and the first macromolecules or large scale protein-like compounds began to form. This sounds quite easy and plausible, wouldn't you say? Advocates of evolution hope you would agree, for once again we find that when all is said and done, more is said than done.

There are many opinions about the size of earths primitive oceans. Some believe they were larger than today because the effect of plate tectonics and volcanism is to raise land masses and drop ocean beds. Others think they were smaller because the early earth was hot and irradiated by the Sun and some of the water would have existed as water vapour in the hot atmosphere. We really don't know. Even supposing that primitive oceans were a lot smaller than today, you would be surprised at just how much water lies beneath the waves. We have 400 million cubic miles (1,600 million cubic km) of water today and each cubic km (10^9 cubic meters) weighs 1 billion tons. (10^12 kg). So if the primitive ocean was only 1 percent of todays water (or about 16 million cubic km) there were still 16 x 10^18 kg of water sloshing about the planet. 16 million billion tons. How much organics do we need to add to this water to achieve a saturated solution, or a sufficient concentration to get a good soup going? Suppose we chuck in a billion tons of amino acids, sugars and other organics. This will raise the concentration, but to much, much less than a single part per million. This is still almost clean water! I wont labour the point. You need many billions of tons of organic materials to accumulate. Some sources assume a one percent solution, which would require 160,000 billion tons of organic molecules of many kinds. Others assume a slightly dilute organic morass which would be even more impossible, if that were possible. It's a lost cause.

In many years of searching, the telltale signs of a prebiotic soup would surely have accumulated in sedimentary rocks, but the earliest rocks have failed to reveal a trace of its existence. Either you take it as a matter of blind faith and believe the unbelievable, or you reassess your ideas and come to terms with the real world.


W.W.W. (Water Won't Work)

Lets look briefly at the next step in the ladder of life. The emergence of macromolecules and amino acid chains that are an integral part of protein manufacture. This step is critical but the difficulties are so immense that all the problems discussed so far are trivial in comparison. For example, when one nucleic acid joins with another, a water molecule is formed. For this to happen in an aqueous solution (the ocean) is almost an impossibility as it requires the input of energy. What happens spontaneously is the reverse. Water molecules readily attack organic compounds and dismantle them. The overriding process is degeneration according to the well known laws of chemistry and thermodynamics. Thats why most science experiments on nucleic acid linking is conducted in mediums other than water, in dry and anhydrous (no water) conditions. It won't work in water!

Evolutionists know this, but like everything else, ignore it and hope you don't notice.

There is another problem. (Isn't there always?) Water breaks down organic chemicals and the decomposition of sugars and organic matter far exceed the rates at which they can accumulate. Amino acids are not stable in water and some think the only way to preserve some of the soup is to drop the temperature to freezing point or below. Higher temperatures accelerate the rates of decomposition. This scenario of a cold ocean on a hot planet is a seeming impossibility, since the earth was still cooling down from its molten state to become the temperate planet we see around us.


The Game of Chance

Your simple average protein molecule consists of 100-200 amino acids linked together in a specific sequence. Of the more than 100 amino acids known, only about 20 are used in living systems. This linked chain can be assembled from amino acids which come in two varieties which may be referred to as right handed or left handed. The laws of chemistry do not play favourites and a right handed molecule is just as likely to form as a left handed one. It turns out that proteins are comprised of only left-handed varieties. What are the chances that we can make a 100 unit protein by random combination, given enough amino acids, sugars and so on, present in a hypothetical prebiotic soup? Remember that of the 100 slots to fill, only 20 of the available 100 or so amino acids can be used, they all have to be left handed types and the final sequence must be the specific one that will allow the protein molecule to perform the desired function. Bear in mind that real proteins are not made this way in the real world. They are only produced in the presence of cellular DNA.

In the analysis that follows, I make a lot of simplifications that bias the probabilities heavily in favour of evolution. For example I assume that every chance interaction will produce a result. I assume that the environmental conditions are optimum and ignore anything to the contrary. I assume that all chemical reactions have an equal possibility of occurring. I ignore the energy requirements for some reactions to proceed, and ignore the laws of physics and thermodynamics. I ignore the fundamental rule of nature that all things decline and tend to the disorganized state. As it happens, these are the sort of assumptions that evolutionists make anyway. Amid all this ignorance, what are the chances of forming even one simple 100 unit protein by chance interactions?


Tails with no Heads

Firstly, the chances that all slots will all be left handed is like tossing a hundred coins and getting 100 “tails” in a row, without a single “head.” What are the odds? This is a simple calculation and the answer is two raised to the 100th power, (2^100) or 1 chance in 1 million million million million million. Thats 1 followed by 30 zeros, to use round figures. Put another way, a million people on a million planets tossing 100 coins every second could not perform this simple task in the entire history of the universe!

Next, what are the chances that of these left handed amino acids filling the slots, only the correct 20 out of 100 or more possibles will be selected? This can also be calculated since each of the slots can be filled with one in five of the available types. This number is 5^100 or 7 followed by 69 zeros! That's one chance in 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000, 000,000,000,000! Perhaps by now we are beginning to get the idea. And we must still account for the fact that not just any combination of left handed “life-friendly” amino acids will do. We need the specific sequence of 100 units that will perform the proteins function. The chances against this happening in a primeval soup – if there was a soup - are 20^100. This number is so astronomical (about 10^130) that it would never happen even if the entire universe consisted of nothing else but soup for the full age of the universe - extended a billion billion times over. And that is for just ONE ordinary protein! The simplest conceivable living cell requires at least 2,000 if not more of these special molecules, most of which are much more complex, all being in the same place at the same time. By the term “same place” I mean closer than a hundredth of a millimeter. Just how gullible do you have to be to believe that this all happened by chance?

You may be thinking that these calculations are new but they have been around for decades. The renowned cosmologist, Sir Fred Hoyle published similar figures in 1981 and most evolutionists have been in mass denial ever since.


Monkey Types

When confronted by the impossible odds for blind chance to do anything, evolutionists often fall back on cute comparisons like this one: “An adequate number of monkeys typing at random for an adequate length of time, will eventually produce an encyclopedia.” Do you believe that? It is on a par with the dubious phrase that minor changes in cell structure heralded the “dim beginnings of the eye” or that “with probablity, there is certainty.” These well-worn cliche's are often promoted when trying to argue that chance could produce complex structures and to bolster the idea of blind chance operating as a causative agent. That it is as inevitable as winning a lottery a million times in a row. After all if someone CAN win a lottery, then surely it is not too much to ask that they do it again. And again. And again. And again...

So let's examine this monkey business. How many is an adequate number of monkeys? If the universe was full of monkeys, would that be enough? What is an adequate length of time? A year? A thousand years? Is that long enough to produce a sentence, a chapter or an encyclopedia?

So how will our monkeys fare? Should we sell the movie rights in anticipation? Suppose we limit our encyclopedia to a single page, and since we are dealing with monkeys, let's limit our search for a single sentence of say, 100 letters, typed correctly with no errors. This should be ever so easy, right?

Wrong!!

To make it simple, lets assume (oops) that every single star in the observable universe has at least one habitable planet and that all these planets are crowded with typing apes. There are billions of galaxies in the universe and each one has billions of stars. That is 10^18 (a billion billion) stars with planets. To cater for the universe we can't see, lets add a factor of one billion just to be safe. Imagine that our ape-type universe of 10^27 planets-of-the-apes, are covered cheek-to-cheek with a thousand billion monkeys each, bringing the total number of apes on keyboards to a staggering 10^39. That is 1 followed by 39 zeros. A thousand million million million million million million chimps. How long would it take them to get just one sentence correct by random key pressing?

A keyboard has about a hundred keys but we only need about twenty or so for our sentence, (Hmm, this is starting to sound familiar...) most of which need to be lower case letters. To make it easy for the monkeys, lets ignore the fact that CapItAL leTteRs cOuLd MeSS uP OuR SentEnCes anD sPace ChaR ac TersaNd P:uN!c,T>Uat(i*o,N CAN:;&MaKE%^ it Rea'll)Y dI>Ffic?:UL@T. (whew!)

Now it so happens that our 100 letter sentence of 20 possible letters has a total of 20^100 different combinations. (I'm sure I've seen this number before...) That is equivalent to 10^130 or 1 followed by 130 zeros. (No! I refuse to type this number out in full!) We want just one of those combinations.

So how long, on average, would our cosmic monkey tribe take to produce just one single sentence by trying every possible combination? We wind up our 10^39 monkeys to a finger blurring speed of one sentence per second so that each monkey can try 31 million combinations a year, for a grand total of 31x10^45 sentences per year. That's 31 billion billion billion billion billion tries per year. How many years would it take, assuming (impossibly) that no combination was repeated?

We simply divide the number of possible combinations by the number of tries per year to find the length of time in years to try them all and achieve our goal. We arrive at (drum roll, please)...

Only 10^83 years! That's 100 billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion years! Our universe is thought by some to be 12 to 15 billion years old, give or take a billion. We would have to extend the lifetime of our entire universe some 10 billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion times over to cover every possibility! All for just one sentence!

What if we wanted two sentences, one after the other? That would take, not double the years, but 10^83 multiplied by 10^83 or a total of 10^166 years! And you wanted a whole book?

This reveals the true power of blind chance, namely zero. Suppose you had a one in a million chance of winning the lottery, and by pure blind stubbornness you had entered 999,999 times without a win. What are the chances of winning with that final one millionth try? Are you bound to win? Nope. Your chances of winning even on the millionth try is the same as when you started, namely just one in a million. You might fluke it on your first attempt although that is extremely unlikely. You might never win even if you tried a billion times.

Suppose you wanted to win the lottery two times in a row. If you tried every week, just trying each combination would take around twenty thousand years. What are the chances, if successful, that on the very next throw you would win again? One million multiplied by one million is one chance in a thousand billion. A weekly lottery would take 19 billion years, well past the presumed age of the universe, just to do it twice in a row. One evolutionist stated that the evolution of life was like wining a million lotteries a million times in a row. Just how stupid do you have to be to believe such nonsense?

There is nothing, absolutely nothing that is “inevitable” when it comes to random interaction or so-called “blind chance.” There are no “dim beginnings” of some future desired result. No purpose, no plotting, no planning, no vision, no design, no possibility of ever constructing the complex animate creation we see around us. We are so familiar with our productive intelligent surroundings that we forget that design has a cause, that planning and purpose are an artifact of intelligence. There is no escaping the “inevitable” conclusion that good engineering demands good engineers and great design requires a great designer.

At this point, any reasonable person would have abandoned evolutionary models. They are just fairy tales, examples of poor reasoning, rampant speculation and a deliberate ignoring of known facts.

Why then do evolutionists persist in this scenario? The only conclusion I can realistically come to is simple blind stubbornness. They will not accept the only reasonable alternative, that life is the result of intelligent design. As one wit remarked, “The idea of a creator is a concept that their mind cannot stomach.” Having committed to a belief system that satisfies them intellectually, there is reluctance to admit to change, a refusal to swallow their pride even in the face of reason. I don't have any respect for that. As an engineer, competency includes updating your knowledge base even beyond your training. There isn't much use for an engineer who wont adapt.


Hot Fox

I have remarked above that for macromolecules such as proteins to form in aqueous solutions requires an input of energy, since it goes against the normal trend. Scientists have many theories to get over this problem, most of which have been dismissed to varying degrees. One of these is the suggestion by scientist Sidney Fox, now known as Fox's Thermal Model. His scheme is mentioned in practically every textbook and encyclopedia, as though it was rigorously proven with compelling logic and set in concrete. The reality is quite different. It is a typical example of how any suggestion, no matter how bizarre and improbable, can be elevated to dogmatic acceptance by mere repetition in a climate of blind belief. Much criticized in its time, and rightly so, it is a theory of no relevance to the origin of life, as we will see.

The theory calls for intense heat on a particular mixture of pure, dry amino acids (up to 175° C) for six hours, (water boils at 100° C) after which the products are stirred with hot water and filtered. When cooled, microscopic globules form, which Fox calls “proteinoid microspheres” which are small polymers, or chains, of amino acids bearing a superficial resemblance to cells. The claim is made that the “proteinoid microspheres” constitute protocells and were a vital link between the primordial soup and living cells. Claims are made of protein-like structures, functions and cell division.

The theory has been criticized by both evolutionists and creationists on the basis of known scientific processes and subsequent analysis. First it is admitted that no suitable environment has been found on earth that duplicates the precise heating and cooling needed. Even the edge of volcanoes (the usual proposition for a source of heat) needs to combine with a miraculous shower of rain at the right time and a convenient body of cool water. Unfortunately, this water would tend to destroy the products, not protect them, as would any deviation from the time and temperature requirements.

Fox's combination of pure amino acids in an anhydrous reagent has no possibility of ever occurring on the primitive earth. The particular acid combination he used is extremely unlikely, given the simpler types of amino acids produced in scientific laboratories. Even if there was a soup, it would be a random mixture of all kinds of chemicals, not a pure selection. Heating such a chemical mixture would soon destroy the amino acids. And I wont even mention the problems involved in transporting a suitable waterless blob from the oceanic soup, placing it in an anhydrous reagent, getting it up to a volcano lip and back again by any conceivable natural process. Now repeat this process billions of times. Putting the whole thing underwater, including the volcano, destroys the heating and anhydrous requirements and neatly dismantles the input and output products.

Further, any combination of left-handed amino acids would be rapidly racemised. Racemization is the process which converts single handed amino acids to a mixture of the right and left forms. All amino acids tend to racemize under natural conditions, the rate of racemization depending on the specific amino acid and the environment, particularly the temperature. The heating of amino acids for six hours at 175° C would accelerate the process making it completely useless for the origin of protein like molecules. The presence of any right handed forms would destroy biological activity.

Finally, the claim of cell division of “proteinoids” has been found to be of mechanical origin. That is a process where a microsphere becomes too large to mechanically support itself and splits in two, much like the formation of two soap bubbles from a larger one. There is no evidence of any complex replication mechanism such as that which is common in living cells.

It might be asked: why do scientists believe this so fervently?

Scientists believe this because it's in all the books, and it's in all the books because the scientists write them. Engineers, however seldom believe everything they read. They check their facts first.

I must say that I am appalled that such easily dismissed suggestions have found a place in evolutionary folklore. The promotion of such unscientific claims by adherents of evolution in light of known facts is almost unforgivable and constitutes evidence of the bias inherent in evolutionary philosophy. They accept The Theory first, last and always, facts don't even come into it.

Surely by now we would be forced to conclude that the supposition that life came from non-life in some evolutionary fashion is false. It is clearly not possible. Naturalistic “blind chance” processes cannot account for the complexity of real life. It is a delusion, an irrational fantasy that is not supported by the facts. Biological evolution ought to be abandoned without further discussion.

Micro-biology has revealed an intricate world that is the living cell. It is a remarkably engineered structure without parallel in the non-living world. Even the simplest of them all, the so-called primitive bacterial cell, is like a tiny factory containing thousands of intricately designed components, cooperating together with matchless precision, far more complex than anything man can imagine. About 100 thousand million atoms weighing in at less than one million millionth of a gram! Yet inside this tiny space is a host of proteins, enzymes and genetic material (DNA and RNA) that holds within its structure an encyclopedia of information. To suppose that all this came about by pure chance is an insult to the intelligence of any reasoning person.


There Is No Try

When a chain of nucleic acids builds up to its complete length, it curls and folds into a unique shape in three dimensions. The folding shape is significant since this gives the protein or enzyme its unique function. In 1996, scientists tried to solve this folding problem with computers, to determine how proteins can build intricate shapes. This problem was too complex to solve! Scientists estimate that for an average protein made up of a chain of 100 nucleic acids as described above, just solving the folding problem by trying every possibility would take 10^27 years; that's a billion billion billion years of trying! In real life, protein folding is predetermined. “There is no try”.

So how are proteins actually made? They are never, ever, EVER made by random interactions. They are manufactured in the cell by DNA. The DNA in living cells contains the instructions necessary to build all the proteins and enzymes the cell needs. To simplify the process greatly, the DNA “copies” the correct sequences to RNA molecules. The RNA in turn, takes that information to the building site and using enzymes, constructs the protein from nucleic acids following the code copied from the DNA. In other words the DNA is pre-programmed with all the instructions to manufacture the thousands of proteins it needs. It does not guess the correct sequences. They have already been programmed into the genetic material according to a complex language of life. It takes about one second for a chain of 20 nucleic acids to form and this process goes on constantly in every living cell. We have seen how impossible it is to create the correct sequences by random interactions or guesswork. What is impossible for blind chance seems just as impossible for cells too. The cellular DNA could not and never did any guessing. It is all pre programmed by a meticulous designer.


Chicken or the Egg

A common question that comes out of micro biology is where did all this programmed complexity come from? It is known that DNA and RNA are made from proteins and proteins can only be made from DNA. So which came first, the protein or the DNA? The chicken or the egg. If protein came first, how could they be made without the DNA code? If the DNA came first (so that we could later make protein) from where did the DNA's protein come from? This problem has no solution for blind, naturalistic approaches to the origin of life.

We have already considered the fantastic improbability of the formation of even one protein in the universe by chance interactions. But that is not the real problem. There is another. (What? Another one?) A single protein has a single basic function. In the real world, a protein is part of an elaborate, enormously complex chain of protein-enzyme interactions that provide the cell with vital functions. It receives its input from a previous process, does its thing, and passes the result to the next protein in the chain. Proteins do not, indeed cannot, exist in isolation. They must be in a living environment to function. And they are found only in functioning living systems. The problem is, making one protein, however impossible, is useless. You need thousands to all arrive spontaneously.

There is a fantastic teamwork involved in the components of living things. Proteins, enzymes, RNA and DNA form an incredible orchestrated dance. Life could not exist without it and there is no explanation for its existence apart from intelligent design. Take away one part of this intricate complexity and life grinds to a halt. Life, in its fundamental core, shows all the characteristics of being meticulously planned, exquisitely executed and superbly engineered. As an Engineer, I am awed by the incredible evidence of a superlative Engineer, a Designer who deserves our respect and admiration.


It's In The Bag

At this stage you may well wonder how the supposed collection of improbable proteins could get together since water acts as an effective dilutant, dismantling the structures and distributing the remains into the aqueous medium. There has to be some mechanism to prevent this dispersion. Come to think of it, how come living cells are not affected in the same way? Are they not also collections of proteins? Don't some of them survive in aqueous solutions? Why don't they dissolve too? Well, do you want to know the answer to this dilemma? I can tell you. It's in the bag.

The contents of every cell must be protected from water and other destructive chemicals in its environment. This function is performed by a membrane, without which a cell could not exist. The membrane contains water repellent fats, cellulose, sugar and chains of amino acids woven together like a tough, gigantic bag-shaped molecule. Scientists estimate that bacterial cell walls can withstand internal pressures of 300 p.s i. That sounds a lot, but remember that the bag is very small.

The obvious problem here is that to form a membrane, a protein synthetic apparatus is needed, but this protein manufacturing mechanism can function only if it is held together with a membrane. It's another of those chicken and egg problems with which evolution is riddled. Without a membrane, no nucleotides, no DNA and no cell. Without nucleotides and DNA, there can be no membrane. And without a membrane to hold it together, no “collection” of proteins can prevent dispersion into the surrounding medium.


Bits of Life

The late Dr. Carl Sagan of Cornell University once proposed an interstellar message that could be transmitted from earth to communicate our existence to other civilizations in the galaxy. He believed that a picture, composed of black and white blocks could be “recognized as emanating unambiguously from intelligent beings.” One picture would show a simplified image of a man, woman and child, the solar system and several atoms. Such a picture can be constructed by sending a unique sequence of dots and dashes – called “bits” of information – to make up the picture. This would require just 1,271 bits altogether.

This number of bits would suggest sufficient order and design to be instantly recognized as an artifact of intelligence. Why so? Radio signals from outer space appear to have random composition when received on earth. The SETI project is famous for searching through radio signals for obvious signs of intelligence. The chances of receiving a specific sequence of 1,271 bits of repeated information has the same chance of occurring as does tossing a coin 1,271 times and coming up with that recognizable pattern. (not coins again!). The number of possible patterns is 2 raised to the power of 1,271.(2^1271) This number is so large (over 10^388) that it could never happen by chance. It's even worse than trying to make proteins by chance! So Dr. Sagan was on firm ground when he said that a repeating sequence of 1,271 bits is a unique artifact of intelligence.

Now consider this: If 1,271 bits is unambiguously from intelligent beings, what about the 10 thousand million bits of information encoded in the chromosomes of every living cell? If science insists that 1,271 bits requires an intelligent designer, then surely 2000 also does; a million demands it, and the complexity of living things has no other explanation. There is no logical or rational reason for proposing that 1,271 bits demand intelligence, but billions of bits arose by blind chance.


Primitive Notions

One of the claims of evolution is the ascendancy of “advanced” forms of life from “primitive” ancestors. It is thought that the most ancient form of living cells were very rudimentary and primitive, like bacteria, and by means of successive small changes more complex and advanced cells developed, the simpletons died off, leading to multicellular forms, mammals and man. The first living organisms resembled simple one-celled entities like fermenting bacteria, without a recognizable nucleus. Is this true? Is the lowly bacteria really that simple? If it was so primitive, and was superseded by more advanced forms, how come they are still around?

True, bacterial cells do not have a nucleus as others do, but they still have a lot of DNA, formed as a single long loop inside it. One scientist remarked that the common E.coli bacterium has a DNA structure that is “by far the largest molecule known to occur in a biological system.” As someone said, “Does that sound to you like something that could have washed up on some primeval beach?”

Wait, there's more! Molecular biology has demonstrated that there is a commonality between all forms of life from bacteria to mammals. Although some try to put an evolutionary spin on this, there is no evidence whatsoever of a ladder of changes leading upwards. Molecular biology reveals that the basic design of living things is essentially the same. All organisms have DNA, RNA and protein components that function in the same way. The meaning of the genetic code is virtually identical. The structure, design and orchestration of the cellular machinery is practically the same in all cells. “In terms of their basic biochemical design, therefore, no living system can be thought of as being primitive or ancestral with respect to any other system, nor is there the slightest empirical hint of an evolutionary sequence among all the incredibly diverse cells on earth.” (Robert Shapiro)

Now that is great engineering!

Since all living things exist on the same planet, with the same gravity field, operate in similar environments, take in similar foods, face similar ranges of temperature and so on, it comes as no surprise that they have a somewhat similar design. However that design has the capacity to enable some to survive in water, others live on land or in the air. Add in the capacity for variety and adaption and you can see what a remarkable design this is from an intelligent creator.


Cellular Solutions

Interviewed in a documentary film, Professor Maciej Giertych, a noted geneticist from the Institute of Dendrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, said: “We have become aware of the massive information contained in the genes. There is no known way to science how that information can arise spontaneously. It requires an intelligence; it cannot arise from chance events. Just mixing letters does not produce words.” He added: “For example, the very complex DNA, RNA, protein replicating system in the cell must have been perfect from the very start. If not, life systems could not exist. The only logical explanation is that this vast quantity of information came from an intelligence.”

So the simple cell must have arisen in one fell swoop. Like a rabbit out of a hat, it had to be complete and perfect from day one or it could not have survived. It is absolutely inconceivable that such a self replicating, self repairing, micro miniaturized factory spontaneously popped into reality all by itself.

Every living cell is controlled by massive amounts of information encoded in its genetic material. They all solve the problem of replication in the same way. The DNA is pre-programmed with all the instructions it needs. All the blueprints of life are locked away in the genetic code in ways that defy human explanation. Who did that programming?

To illustrate. Complex computer systems are controlled by the programs that software engineers and others make. Operating systems such as Linux consist of millions of lines of code that is carefully compiled together in order to make computers work the way they do. Despite the efforts of thousands of presumably intelligent programmers, there are “bugs” or programming defects that arise and give unexpected results. “Bug-free” programs are the holy grail of programming, always approached but never quite achieved. Nobody would ever suggest that complex operating systems came about by random combinations of keys on a keyboard! Only a fool would believe that such a complex collection of interactive processes and language such as that expressed in a huge body of code could arise in such a way. It takes intelligent design and lots of it! So does the language of life.

Further, bug “fixes” are not random adjustments. They are purposely made, address a known need and carefully interwoven into the existing code. This takes intelligent design and direction. The programmer, being aware of the scope and nature of the system, can even anticipate problems by modifying its design accordingly. Even if it could be demonstrated that living things underwent a series of small adjustments or adaptions over the years, such modifications would still demand an intelligent designer. Truly random modifications would destroy the genetic code.

The genetic code inside living things is much like a computer program, as their functions are pre-programmed and they both require intelligent design. All the genetic code for constructing proteins for example are “hard wired” or predetermined, much like the BIOS in computers (Basic Input Output System). However there are differences. The programming of living systems allows for variation and adaption. There are “genetic reserves” that allow organisms to react to changes in the environment and to draw on the language of life to cope. The scope of this language and the way it works are mysteries to men but it absolutely requires an intelligent creator.

When it comes to coding complexity, the coding of the genetic information in living systems is far more complex than the microprocessors that control the computers of today. Since computer chips are made from silicon, would you put any credence on claims that the microprocessor evolved purely by chance from beach sand? That sand and impurities “just happened” to produce a microchip consisting of millions of transistor circuits? You can search through all the silicon on all the beaches of all the oceans of the world and never find an OR gate let alone a computer chip. And if you do happen to find one, your instant conclusion will be that it was of human manufacture!


Years of our Days

One of the more bizarre beliefs of creationists (or “Scientific Creationism”) that many scientists cannot stomach is the staunch assertion that the universe and all that is in it was created in six or seven literal 24 hour days less than 7,000 years ago, a reference to a literal interpretation of the Genesis account in the Bible. This requirement is the principal reason that many feel that creation is “not a science” since it is so at odds with the accumulating scientific knowledge. It smacks of mysticism and religious dogma, not a reasonable and sober interpretation of the facts.

Fortunately there is no need for such dogmatic claims, as a simple reading of the scriptural passage will dismiss any doubts that the creative “days” were in fact figures of speech representing time periods that could have been many thousands of years long. The scientific basis for an intelligent designer is well established without the need to add this simplistic and unnecessary element.

Where did this belief come from? Actually it stems from 17th century and earlier dogma that had much to do with the simple interpretations available in those days. Scientists had yet to develop the tools that would unlock their understanding of the physical world. It seemed reasonable to many at the time that the universe was created 7,000 years ago, that the “days” of creation were literal and that the biblical deluge caused all geological sediments. In those days, one did not question the Church; you did so at your peril! These views are still held today by a few fundamentalist churches, notably Seventh-Day Adventists who have endeavored to have such ideas taught in schools.

However the issue of the origin of life, or even “evolution versus creation” has nothing to do with those beliefs. They are irrelevant side issues which have only served to discredit the Bible in the eyes of many and done much damage to the concept of a creator. As I have summarized here, the evidence of an intelligent designer is overwhelming. There is no need to complicate the matter with such notions. However, it is of interest to see if the bible supports such literal viewpoints.


Genesis 101

So, what does the biblical passage actually say?

Genesis chapter 1: verses 1 and 2 (King James Version) “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

The first two verses of Genesis chapter one clearly refer to the initial creation of the universe at an unspecified time, “In the beginning” thus allowing for whatever time periods that men might propose. The earth is described as being a watery world (...deep, ...waters...) and it is significant that verse two suggests that the surface of the earth was in complete darkness, that no light could reach the surface of the planet, perhaps because of thick clouds of water vapour, dust or other contaminants. Why is this surface darkness significant? Lets read on.

Genesis 1:3 to 5 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

It is significant because on the first creative “day” mentioned in verses three to five, the famous expression “Let there be light” does not refer to the origin of the universe, such as the Big Bang as is commonly thought. The “light” that God “let there be” was in fact, the daylight hours of the earth. It is directly related to the observance of a daytime and nighttime for the planets surface and this expression comes after the creation of the heavens and the primitive earth. Observe the sequence: “Let there be light”, there was light, the light was good, God called the light “Day” (opposite of “Night”) - a clear, unmistakable and highly specific reference to daylight hours. This reference must therefore refer to the provision of light penetrating earths darkness and reaching the earths surface at this time. This could be accomplished by a gradual clearing of the atmosphere, a process which was not complete until much later when the actual orb of the sun and the moon as well as light from the stars could finally be discerned from the earths surface. So the creation of the universe and the primitive earth occurred long before the creative “days” began. Verses 1 and 2 set the scene as it were for the momentous events to follow. The “days” mentioned in Genesis 1 v 3 onward must refer to subsequent creative acts to prepare the earth for living things. Note the use of the expressions “light” and “day” for the 12 hours (on average) of daylight.

In the language in which Moses wrote Genesis, (Hebrew) the term translated “day” meant a period of time. This could be a long time (such as a thousand years) or a short time such as a single day or half a day. This is shown in Genesis 2:4 where the entire six creative periods are summed up as a single “day that the Lord God made earth and heaven” (KJB). Furthermore, Psalm 90 verse four, also written by Moses, refers to a thousand years as being but “yesterday” with God, or just a “watch” during the night (a few hours) clearly allowing the view that a “day” in God's sight could be thousands of years to humans. In my view this is much more logical and reasonable, as a creator would not be limited to human notions of time and could afford to be patient. It is man that has no patience, and can't wait a day.

Significant also is the point that the end of the first six creative periods or “days” is defined by the expression “an evening, a morning, the first day” etc. This terminology is in keeping with the use of the term “day” as representing creative periods. This comment is missing from the seventh day when God rested from his work, suggesting that it hadn't finished and was still continuing. About 4,000 years later just after the time of Christ, Gods rest is spoken of as still going (Hebrews 4: 4-6). Since the seventh day was over four thousand years long and still going, by that reckoning, logically the other six would have been thousands of years long as well.

Nor should we be confused by the references to terms such as “earth” and “heavens”, which have several meanings in just the first two chapters of Genesis alone. The earth and heaven referred to in verses 1 and 2 clearly refer to the primitive planet and the starry heavens which were created in the beginning. It is only later, on day two, that the “firmament of the heavens” (our atmosphere) began to clear, allowing it to be the place (the heavens) for the flying creatures to roam on day 5. On day 3 God is said to call the dry land areas “Earth”. So then “earth and heaven” could refer to three things: the planet and the stars, the planet and its atmosphere or dry land and air. When viewed in such a context, the expression used in Exodus 20:11 that “in six days God made the heavens and the earth” spoken to a pastoral people, familiar with and dependent on the Earth and its seasons, must therefore be understood as a reference to the earth and its atmosphere, not the entire universe.


A Walk in the Park

Finally, you have to be sorry for Adam. If the creationists literal viewpoint is accepted Adams first day was a busy one! Adam was said to be created on day six after the domestic animals and wild beasts, probably in the “afternoon” of the “day”. (The Jews considered the day as starting at sundown and continuing to the following sunset) A more detailed parallel account in Genesis chapter two reveals that God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals and birds. Even if he didn't need to examine every species, just naming the basic “kinds” of animals and all the birds was no walk in the park. Fortunately, God helped matters by bringing the animals to Adams garden home, thus saving him from a game of hide and seek. Even so, it would have taken Adam many months or even years to observe each one, note their habits and features and come up with a meaningful name for all these creatures. Following this, Adam noted that all the animals had mates, something that he lacked. He still had time for a God-given “deep sleep”. While he slept, God created Eve. On awakening, he then composed the first poem and attended his own wedding before God called it a “day”.

A literal 24-hour view of the creative “day” here just does not make sense.


Faith in Evidence

One of the common rants of atheists is that science is “evidence based” whereas belief in a creator is “faith based”. The inference is that faith is gullible credulity and science is factual evidence and therefore as far as reality is concerned, a creator is dismissed with a sneer and science gets the nod. As I have shown here, in the real world it is quite the reverse, at least as far as the origin of life is concerned. Rather than being based on hard facts, evolution is in reality little more that a fairy tale. It takes incredible gullibility and even more “faith” to accept evolutionists quaint notions about life. The far more logical stance is that life was a “deliberate intelligent act” as Sir Fred Hoyle once said.

In my view it is incorrect to view faith as somehow separate from the factual. You will often find that so-called “faith” is based on hard evidence, documented facts and eye-witness accounts. Also often, you will find that what passes for “scientific” evidence is sometimes pure speculation, guesswork and assertion known to be wrong, but accepted simply because there is no alternative.

Every seeker of evidence must also have a degree of faith, in himself, in the laws and facts he uncovers and in the ideas he uses to process those facts to give him a reasonable assurance of correctness. Every seeker of faith should likewise examine the evidence that gives him the reasonable assurance that what he accepts is correct. Evidence and faith are inseparable and operate in tandem with all we do. If you believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, you are exercising faith that the laws of creation will continue as you expect.

Remember, reality is correct. Everything else is a guess.


Is That a Fact?

A hopeful weapon against ignorance used by the scientific community is the expression “scientific fact”, as for example, that evolution is a “scientific fact”. Just what is that expression supposed to mean? Usually the user sees his beliefs backed up by “evidence based” facts and promotes that expression to mean that he is correct and we must accept whatever is dressed up in such factual clothing. The inference is that the ideas promoted are not to be challenged and the ponderous mass of scientific findings will back up the claims made, rendering any protest useless. As we have seen above, this is completely false.

The expression “scientific fact” is at times an oxymoron, a self evident contradiction, since sometimes the idea presented is neither scientific nor factual, i.e. evolution of life from non-life.

What this term usually means is “this is the opinion of some scientist” or “scientists agree that...” and it bears no relation at all to truth or correctness in many cases.

To illustrate: When I started primary school it was a “scientific fact” that the indigenous population of Australia (the Aboriginal community) first arrived in Australia about 2,500 years ago. By the time I started my engineering course this scientific fact was admitted to being wrong and was now 4,000 years. At the time I graduated it was at least 6,000 years and the promoters of this notion looked down their nose at anyone challenging such a scientific fact. Later it rose to 10,000 then 20,000 and grew rapidly. Now it must be at least 60,000 but who really knows. Where in this stream of claims was there any actual facts? How much of this was actually scientific? If such “facts” are so fragile that any trifling discovery can render them false, why proclaim them with such certainty?

You would be surprised at how often simple repetition of a tenuous assertion later becomes an accepted speculation, matures as an established scientific fact, then sets in concrete and is loudly proclaimed with dogmatic ferocity!

The reality is that real “facts” don't change. The “current shape of the earth is round” may be proclaimed as a fact because it won't change. It is round. Its current shape is well supported by reliable evidence. Future evidence will only confirm this fact. Some may argue that the earth is an oblate spheroid, but that still meets the definition or meaning of “round” and that's a fact!


Conclusions

In reviewing this debate with engineering principles in mind, it strikes me that both the evolutionist and the creationist are trying to bend the facts to suit their theory, rather than letting the facts speak for themselves. The case for intelligent design of living things is so overwhelming that the evolutionist must resort to a dishonest view of scientific discoveries to preserve his irrational fantasies. If it seems that I view this matter harshly, it is only because my engineering background and training is repulsed by the entrenched gullibility and obvious ignorance. It is not only chance that is blind, but the evolutionist as well.

On the other hand, the creationist must likewise resort to a dishonest interpretation of both the Bible and historical events in order to preserve his unnecessarily literal viewpoint. His creator is one that is hamstrung by human notions of time. The creator is assumed to be dishonest, deliberately faking the appearance of the universe and its laws to maintain an artificially imposed dogma with nothing to commend it. The reality is that even if God created the universe around 7,000 years ago, in six literal days, he only had to do nothing for the matter to be self evident. The appearance of new stars and nebula in the worlds eyes and telescopes as their light gradually reached us would be ample evidence to prove to all his creative status. There would have been no need for the elaborations needed to preserve what can only be described as an immature tradition.

The creator uncovered by our engineering lens is one who holds the universe in the palm of his hand. His activity sweeps across uncounted millenniums of time, spans the galaxies at a glance. His power can control a universe or a single cell. We should rightly respect such an awesome Designer and seek to know more about his ways and creations.

You could make a start by finding out his name...

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